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Insider Series: Carrie’s 5 Tips for Surviving Long-Haul Flights

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Having logged more than 325,000 miles last year — and 85% of the time on long-haul flights — few people know more about what it takes to survive a long flight. Here, TPG Insider Carrie A. Trey shares some of her best tips and tricks so you can come off the plane looking fresh as a daisy.

Long-haul travel can be really fun — lengthy flights give you plenty of time to catch up on your favorite TV shows, watch new movies and enjoy Champagne for days, while also providing plenty of opportunities to meet new people and explore faraway, exotic destinations.

On the other hand, it can also be horrendous. I’m talking about the inevitable lack of sleep, jet leg, long lines at immigration, surly customs officers and crying babies that won’t let up for 14 hours. The cons can easily outweigh the pros and the more you do it, the harder it can get. That said, I thought I’d share some of my favorite tips and tricks in the hopes that you’ll emerge from your next long flight looking every bit as fresh and feisty as when you started!

1. Change Into Your PJs

Changing into PJs for the flight will leave you (and your clothes) looking and feeling fresh on arrival. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Anytime I’m flying overnight — or on a leg during the day that’s longer than nine hours — I always bring a change of clothes to wear during the flight. While I’d hate to be seen strolling through the terminal in sweats, I sure do love curling up in them on the plane! Wearing your pajamas or other comfortable clothes feels more cozy, letting you sleep more comfortably and, hopefully, longer.

Before landing, put your old outfit back on. It will have been hanging or folded up the whole time so it’ll look fresh and make you feel a bit fresher too.

I find that this little custom even helps my body clock adjust, as I’m maintaining part of my daily routine. It’s a small detail, but an important one.

2. Drink Plenty of Water

Water does a flying body good! Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

There are so many studies out about jet lag and while they seem to recommend 101 different things, the one they all agree on is getting enough hydration.

As you may have gathered by now, there are few people on earth who love Champagne more than I do. That said, it really isn’t the best thing for you on an airplane — alcohol and caffeine will dry you out even faster.

Start drinking water early on in the flight and drink it often — I try to drink one liter for every two hours of flight. Follow it up with a healthy swig of juice in the morning and you’ll be on the right track.

Water will keep your body hydrated and help to minimize the effects of jet lag, while the vitamins in the juice will give your immune system the boost it needs after spending more than nine hours with 300 of your coughing, sneezing, spewing best friends in a cabin full of recycled air.

3. Make Sure You’re Moisturized

Your local pharmacy is stocked with goodies to keep you healthy and happy while you fly. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

I’m a huge fan of technology, modern medicine and pretty much anything that makes life a little better. A trip to your local pharmacy before you travel can make your life so much easier.

First of all, lotions and potions — under 3 oz/100 ml, of course! — are a must. Just like water helps your body stay hydrated, using a good moisturizer is also very important. If you forget to stop by the pharmacy, head to the duty free shops in the airport instead.

I find that Kiehl’s, Ahava and Biotherm all have fantastic product lines and I use them regularly to combat the effects of travel on my skin. Kiehl’s has an eye-depuffer that works wonders and I absolutely love Ahava’s day cream.

The other half of the pharmaceutical equation would of course be a sleep aid. A mild one can help you conk out on the plane and re-adjust to your destination’s time zone before you get there. When taken responsibly — in other words, not chased by half a bottle of wine — this can be a huge help to ensure you’re arriving at your destination ready to tackle the day ahead.

4. Pack Like a Pro

How and what you pack can make a huge difference. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Make sure you bring the right toys with you to make your journey as effortless as possible. Whether it’s the pajamas we talked about earlier, your favorite neck pillow, a well-loaded Kindle or iPad or even just a bag of your favorite chocolates, a well-packed carry-on can make or break a trip.

I usually make a list and double-check it before I leave — that one missing item that you discover you forgot halfway across the Atlantic can really throw a wrench in your flight.

I always pack my fleece-covered hot water bottle, my iPad loaded with a few movies in case the in-flight entertainment is sub par, a few dark chocolate sea salt caramels (Anthon Berg chocolates are my favorite!), a well-stocked toiletry kit and a fresh pair of intimates should things go awry and my luggage fails to arrive with me. Figure out what it is you need to stay happy and healthy during your voyage, pack it up and off you go!

5. Splurge on Something Nice at the Airport

Treat yourself! Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

This is probably the most important part: Take as much stress out of the process as possible, even if it costs you a few extra bucks. A day pass to an airline lounge during a long layover can be very affordable and is a great way to relax and retreat from the crowds for a bit. My Amex Platinum Card is probably the most valuable credit card in my wallet since it gives me access to airport lounges along the way as well as free Global Entry to facilitate things on arrival — a must for any serious long-haul traveler!

An upgrade to an extra-legroom seat or a higher class of service can often be economical and the cost-to-benefit ratio as it relates to lowering your stress level while increasing your comfort can be drastic. Even something as simple as stopping at the airport spa can do wonders for getting you up and running again.

Bottom Line

Do whatever it takes to stay comfortable during your trip and chances are you’ll arrive feeling refreshed, energized and ready to take on your destination!

Do you have any tips for surviving long-haul flights? Let us know, below.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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